April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO FREDERICK W. FAIRHOLT ; 14 August 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440814-TC-FWF-01; CL 18: 179-184


Chelsea, 14 August, 1844

Dear Sir,

On the accompanying sheet I have written a kind of List of Oliver's Battlefields, with indications that might enable you to study them, when convenient.

If at any time when opportunity otherwise served, you thought of trying to pourtray1 one of these very famous Bits of Ground, which are like to continue famous for a thousand years to come, I should be very happy to communicate farther with you, and give what additional directions were in my power for your guidance.

I regret that the circumstances of the case and time do not seem as yet to offer any other feasibility in this matter. But it seems very certain, Good likenessesses of these Spots of Mother Earth would continue precious to a date beyond most other extant ‘Works of Art’!

With many good wishes / Yours truly,

T. Carlyle


Grantham Fight:
Cromwell's first Fight was ‘within two miles of Grantham’ (on the Newark side of Grantham, I suppose), on the evening of ‘Saturday, 13 May, 1643.[’] He beat the Newark Cavaliers,—‘Colonel Cromwell.’ The exact locality is not recorded in any tradition that I hear of. Nor is there, known to me, any account of the business but Cromwell's own Letter about it, in Cromwelliana p. 5.2

Gainsborough Fight:
28 july, 1643 (still in Lincolnshire); attempting to relieve Gainsborough with stores of powder &c, Cromwell is set upon by Charles Cavendish the Earl of Devonshire's son: Cromwell storms the Hill he (Cavendish) had occupied; drives him into ‘a Bog,’ and there Whalley3 ‘stabs him under the short ribs.’ This action made an amazing noise. The place is still known as ‘Cavendish's Bog,’—a meadow, as I understand it, about two miles from Gainsborough under the brow of steep hills. An excellent account of the Transaction is in Cromwell's own Letter about it (Rushworth V. 279,—my edition of this vol. of Rushworth is of 1692).

Winceby Field, called also, Horncastle Fight, 11 October 1643. Sir John Henderson, Sir Ingram Hopton,4 and a body of Cavaliers are cut to pieces by Cromwell and Fairfax; the Earl of Manchester was General-in-chief, but did not come up with his foot till the others, horse principally, had decided it. Winceby, a very small hamlet, and field on the crown of a hill, is some five miles east of Horncastle in Lincolnshire. The Parliament Horse lay on Bolingbrok-Hill the night before the battle; and a great deal of marching and skirmishing had taken place before the parties settled. A copious account, intelligible if well meditated, is to be found in Vicar's Parliamentary Chronicle (called also Jehovah-jiveh, and Magnalia Dei in the third edition), which has Indexes that will lead you to it. Abundant Traditions, as I find, still survive in the district. “Slash Lane” leading from the Field of Winceby is ever since the name of the lane along which the chase went. I have many Letters and details about it. The outline maps I shewed you were of this Winceby.

Marston Moor:
Tuesday 2 july 1644; began at 7 in the evening. The Place is some 4 miles west of York. The best accounts are in Rushworth V. 632,3, and Cromwelliana p. 9.— Other accounts in Clarendon, in Whitlock, and in many modern Books are nothing but a jumble of confusions and delusions. This was the fiercest fight in the whole war.

There were two famous Fights at Newbury (near Reading);5 in the second of these Cromwell had a main share: Sunday 27 Octr 1644. Clarendon's account (II. 717, of the edition of 1819) is one of the best: but Vicars, Whitlock and Rushworth should all be consulted. Donnington Castle, Speen and the localities on that side of Newbury, concern us most on this occasion. Cromwell and the Earl of Manchester, his chief, had a quarrel after this battle, because Manchester would not press on, and improve his victory; which quarrel ended in the ‘Self-denying Ordinance,’ and putting the whole fraternity of Half-and-halfs out of the concern.

Islip Bridge:
A few miles north of Oxford, Islip Bridge (over the river Ray) with Bletchingdon House; and then Radcot Bridge (over the Isis or Thames) and Bampton Bush some miles west of Oxford, are scenes of noted skirmishes by Cromwell 24th–27th April 1645.6 His own ‘Letters’ about them are lost. A summary of the business is in Rushworth VI. 24,5; and in Heath's Chronicle (p. 121, of the small edition):7 details may perhaps be discoverable in the King's Pamphlets8 of May 1645

14 june 1645; this was the King's ruin; he never rallied in any force again. Naseby, a fine old solitary hamlet, is on the N. W. edge of Northamptonshire, a mile or two on the left as you go from Northampton to Market Harborough;—it is perhaps some seven miles from Market Harborough. Cromwell dates his Letter from that Town (‘Haverbrowe’) on the night of the Battle.9 Sprigge's Anglia Rediviva (which has Indexes) contains a Plan of the Armies, and all kinds of authentic details. Rushworth (Fairfax's Secretary) was also there in person: his account is in his VI volume (which has an Index);—there are multifarious accounts, and I have an immense mass of letters and Investigations about it. N.B. the present monumental ‘obelisk’ is about a mile off, to the eastward of the real place of fighting.10 Parties resident there can afford every facility and direction, if they have right warning.

Moor near Preston, between that Town and Stonyhirst, on the north bank of the Ribble, in Lancashire: 17 August 1648; the chase, over Darwen Bridge, by Wigan to Warrington, lasts two days more, with a hot skirmish by the road, at ‘Redbank’ (a place near Winwick I should suppose). Cromwell's long Letter on the subject is abridged in Rushworth; can be found entire in the King's Pamphlets for the month in question;—it and all other details have been republished last year, in a convenient manner, by the ‘Chatham Society’ at Manchester, and are procurable with little difficulty.11 In Sir Walter Scott's Memoirs of the Civil War (Edinburgh, 1806) are some hints and notices by one Hodgson a Yorkshire captain, who was in the Fight;—very obscure and rude, but yielding light if well meditated and compared with others. An outline of the ground, the Moor, Ribble Bridge, Darwen Bridge &c would be very useful here.

3 September, 1650,12 Belongs to some Scotch Artist; a man from Edinburgh, had he a model to proceed by, might best accomplish it,— a journey of some 25 miles for him.

3 September 1651. A wide-spread, confused great Fight, very bewildering for want of a “Portrait of the Ground.” Upton, Powick-bridge; Severn Bridge of Boats &c &c. Heath's account is at p. 547. Other accounts, which are numerous, would require to be consulted and collected. The main fighting was on the S. E. side of the City; and the retreat went thro' ‘Sidbury Gate’ (the present road from London, I think), across the whole length of Worcester towards the North.13


Houses and Castles where Cromwell did service. These are of small moment to me, or to any one, in comparison with the Battlefields: but I may as well note on this blank bit of paper what of them I remember at the moment. The Battlefields still exist, with some superficial changes; but the Castles and Houses have only their ruins left, for most part, or else new walls to shew: that is one difference.

Burleigh House, on the edge of Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire: Cromwell took this House by storm in 1643: it is still a ‘House,’ but whether the old one I do not know14

Basing House; a ruin near Basingstoke; stormed by C. in autumn 1645, after all manner of people had failed for years: a feat immensely celebrated. I suppose it is mere confused mounds and ditches now.15

Pembroke Castle, Tenby Castle, especially Pembroke: a fierce siege in 1648.16

Winchester Castle & Town, the Devizes &c &c in 164517 (see Sprigge's Anglia Rediviva, for ample indications and details).


Hursley Manor, near Winchester; a modern House; but the site and grounds were Richard Cromwell's and Richard Mayor's, and interesting once to Oliver;18—not the rose these two Richards, but they had been near the rose!

Oliver's House at Ely; now a poor Tavern, two gunshots west of the Cathedral.19

Norborough Manorhouse (now cobbled into a Farmhouse, I believe, with old gateway standing &c) a very little way from Market Deaping, but in another county, was the Lady Claypole's residence; and Oliver, say some, used to spend his Christmas here,—or has been known to spend one Christmas here?20 (Noble II. 371).

&c &c &c